The Crystal Ornament: A Twitter Story
This is one of a series of stories that I have been telling on Twitter. Each paragraph is 140 characters or less. I hope that you enjoy.
A Twitter Story
The block that Kevin lived on was filled with big new houses. He lived in one of the only old houses still standing. It was small.
The house was tucked into a pine stand. His dad loved the carpet of pine needles that swelled under the canopy. It smelled of sap and mildew.
When all the big houses had been built, the rest of the pine stands had been cut down. Most of the houses had little trees growing.
Kevin liked to walk around the neighborhood at night when everyone was locked up. The lights from the big windows were strong.
When you looked in to Kevin’s house through the pine stands you could barely see the light from inside. The windows were small and narrow.
The other kids who lived there were friendly but Kevin felt like he came from a different world. The boundary was marked by the pine stand.
Walking around looking at the houses at night he wondered what was going on inside. What was it like to live in those bright lights?
On the school bus he’d listen to some of the kids talk about their toy and their rooms and their moms and dads. They bragged like kids do.
What Kevin knew about his home was that it was warm and he wasn’t scared to be in any corner of it. When it got stormy, the house was snug.
In storms, the pine stand would toss and sway, and if the sky was clear, the stars would sparkle like ornaments through the needles.
At Christmas all of the houses got brighter, with their bushes lit up and the Christmas trees standing in the big windows.
Kevin and his father went back into the woods to cut down a tree that they stood in the corner away from the fireplace. Kevin felt ashamed.
He didn’t know why he was ashamed. He walked around the neighborhood and wondered what it would be like to have everyone look at his tree.
He could look into the houses, but whatever was inside was a mystery to him. He didn’t have anyone to ask. His mother was always quiet.
After Christmas the trees were put onto the curb so the garbage trucks would take them. Kevin and his dad shredded their on the flower bed.
Walking one night Kevin saw a light flash on a discarded tree. A crystal ornament was stuck up in the fork of two branches. He pried it out.
The ornament lit up in his hand. It felt like magic. Kevin took it home and wrapped it in paper. When I get my big house, he thought.
When I get my big house I’ll put this on my tree and I’ll remember where it came from. When I get my big house, I’ll put this on my tree.
In the spring, his mother cleaned out his room when he was at school. She found the crystal ball. She had it on the kitchen counter.
“Where did you get this?” she asked. “I found it.” “Where did you find it?” “On the street.” “It’s valuable, you now that?”
Kevin told her it had been thrown out. They waited for his dad to come home to decide what to do. “I didn’t steal it,” he said.
The three of them stared at the crystal ornament sitting on the yellow counter as if they would see the future. “You have to bring it back.”
Kevin’s dad walked him to the end of the drive and watched Kevin go up to the front door of the house the crystal came from. Kevin knocked.
The mom came to the door. She was dressed nice and smelled like something that Kevin had never smelled before, but he liked.
He held the crystal ornament out to her. “I found this on the street and think it is yours.” She looked down at his hand.
“You found it? It’s a Christmas ornament.” Kevin bit his lip. “I found it after Christmas, but I think it might be valuable, so here.”
She smiled. When she smiled it was like she was moving far away. “It’s not valuable, really. It must have cuaght in the tree.”
“I’d like to give it back,” Kevin said. The woman smiled again. Kevin wanted her to stay right there. “But you found it, you can have it.”
Kevin wondered where his dad was. He didn’t want to look back. “Please, ma’am. I’d like you to take it back.”
The woman had her hand on the door, the other crossed across her throat. She looked over Kevin’s head. The she smiled again.
When she smiled this time it felt as if she’d suddenly opened her arms and pulled him in to a hug. “All right then, I’ll put it in storage.”
She took the ornament from Kevin and looked at it closely. “You took very good care of it. Thank you, young man.” She told him to wait.
She came back to the door with a $5 bill. “Take this. As a thank you.” She put the money in his hand and closed the door.
Kevin walked back to his dad. “She gave me $5.” His dad looked at the house. “Those people think we’re not as good as them,” he said.
They walked back down the drive. His dad was silent. Kevin knew he’d done something wrong. He didn’t like how empty his dad felt.
Kevin started to cut through the woods to the bus stop so he didn’t have to pass the big house. He stoped looking in the windows at night.
But Kevin never forgot the smell of that woman. He didn’t forget the warmth of her last smile. He didn’t spend the $5.